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Interdisciplinary Laboratory Projects Integrating Labview With Vhdl Models Implemented In Fpga Hardware

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Embedded System Design

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.792.1 - 15.792.9

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Paper Authors


Ronald Hayne The Citadel

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Ronald J. Hayne, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer
Engineering at The Citadel. His professional areas of interest are digital systems and hardware
description languages. He is a retired Army Colonel with experience in academics and Defense

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Mark McKinney The Citadel

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Mark H. McKinney, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer
Engineering at The Citadel. His professional areas of interest include power systems, measurement and instrumentation systems and engineering outreach and education.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Interdisciplinary Laboratory Projects Integrating LabVIEW with VHDL Models Implemented in FPGA Hardware


Senior level electrical engineering elective courses often have a fairly narrow focus with little view of how the material from one EE discipline may integrate with another. Projects and in- class demonstrations encompassing material from multiple classes give students the opportunity to see how different concepts from within the EE curriculum integrate and allow them to observe the interactions from a larger perspective. Projects and demonstrations using computer aided design tools from different disciplines can be leveraged to exploit their strengths, while improving overall system design by interaction with other tools.

Prototype projects and in-class demonstrations have been developed that combine material from two senior electives: Advanced Digital Systems and Electrical Measurements and Instrumentation. The advanced digital course uses VHDL to model digital designs which can be simulated using ModelSim to verify their function. The electrical measurements course uses LabVIEW to develop computer-based instrumentation and measurement systems. The goal of these interdisciplinary projects is to develop systems that integrate a digital design modeled in VHDL with an instrumentation and test system built using LabVIEW. Due to the small student population overlap between the two classes, the projects are currently used as demonstration exercises with the ultimate goal being full integration in both courses.

The projects utilize LabVIEW’s FPGA design module and Xilinx Spartan 3e FPGA boards to create a hardware-in-the-loop system that integrates concepts from both courses. VHDL models designed in the advanced digital class are implemented in FPGA hardware and integrated with a system designed in LabVIEW. LabVIEW’s graphical programming environment allows for simple and straightforward testing and verification of the VHDL modules’ designs.

One example project uses a VHDL model for a floating-point multiplier. This digital system uses the IEEE 754 single precision format with 32 bits representing a floating-point number. A significant challenge for testing this design is correctly formatting the test data. This is where LabVIEW can be leveraged to develop a test framework for the multiplier. The programming tools include type cast operators that readily convert floating-point numbers into their 32-bit single precision representations. These correctly formatted inputs and outputs are interfaced with the VHDL module to create a complete system that can be implemented and tested.

Concepts from these senior electives have been combined to develop projects and demonstrations that provide an integrated design and testing environment. Each discipline provides tools which contribute to the overall system. This interdisciplinary experience will better prepare students for the types of challenges they are likely to encounter as practicing engineers.

Hayne, R., & McKinney, M. (2010, June), Interdisciplinary Laboratory Projects Integrating Labview With Vhdl Models Implemented In Fpga Hardware Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky.

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